For anyone who games with the iMac, a good advice

Discussion in 'iMac' started by vannibombonato, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. vannibombonato macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2007
    Hi all,
    i use the iMac also to game via Bootcamp, Battlefield 3. I enjoy FPS, and bought a surround headphone.
    Everything was connected via optical out into optical in of the headphone setup, until i read a post in this forum in which it says that the iMac on board sound-card does not support Dolby Digital Live, which is actually what makes surround come to life.

    To cut it short, i investigated the issue and eventually bought a rather cheap external USB soundcard (SoundBlaster X-Fi surround 5.1 PRO), installed the drivers that came with the CD (VERY important, drivers from the web are not complete), and my gaming world has changed.

    The difference is NIGHT AND DAY, i simply could not believe it. It's not only surround (which was previously "guessed" by my system and i truly thought i had it), the effect to me was like watching color TV after always having watched black and white TV.

    Net, to anyone who games, i strongly, strongly, strongly recommend to do the purchase (and follow some advice on how to enable DDL, etc., if its not enabled you won't hear differences).

    Hope it helps.

  2. wilds94 macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2012
    I will be doing this very soon! Can i ask if you've read anything about the drivers for mac? I thought that maybe i might want too watch some surround sound movies on the OSX. Starting to think this is less necessary because of the fact that i have an xbox and the windows partition too use for that.

    Also, slightly off topic, how are you finding your iMac for gaming? If you've been reading these forums recently, i've been obsessing over whether or not i should get an iMac to suit my gaming and OSX needs and am about too take the plunge. Getting the 27" i7, GTX 680MX with 32gb RAM (unneccesary, but 200$ off amazon). And i just bought the Astro A40 wired head set.

    Can i also ask a few more questions;

    Are you getting good FPS on Battlefield 3?
    How long does it take too boot into windows?
    Do you cuddle it late at night?
  3. andg5thou macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2012
    The late 2012 iMac with 680MX runs battlefield 3 on max settings very smoothly. In fact, it can run any current game at high - ultra settings with good FPS.

    It takes my machine ~90 seconds to boot windows 7 desktop (yuck). Remember that the bootcamp partition does not have access to the flash storage on the fusion drive, it runs windows and associated apps exclusively from the HDD.
    It takes about 10-15 seconds to boot OS X.

    You don't necessarily see any improvement in game performance between the i5 and i7.

    The only obligatory upgrades for this machine are the 680MX and 1TB Fusion drive. 8GB of memory is fine for now, but you may want to upgrade when you come into some spare change.

    There are a bunch of youtube videos demonstrating the late 2012 27" iMac running games. Hurry up and buy one. If you don't think it's good enough, take it back within 14 days and get a refund!
  4. vannibombonato thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2007
    i think i have all the answers for you...

    1) I've not looked on drivers for Mac, but my primary use for the iMac is music production in OSX, and i have an uber-soundcard dedicated to that. I don't use the iMac to whatch movies though, i have a big TV and couch and that's where i watch movies. Based on Creative Labs area of operation, i would tend to exclude they ever release drivers for Mac. I don't think there's any Creative Labs driver at all.

    2) For gaming, the iMac has surprised me. In a pleasant way. When i was younger i was a big gamer (i.e. PC geek), now much less, i play basically 2-3 titles per year max, now i have only BF3 installed for example. And it runs fantastically: fantastically means at native resolution, all settings maxed out except antialiasing. I frankly couldn't ask for more. It's a given that as time goes by and system requirements will increase performance will decrease, like, probably Batlefield 4 won't perform the same way, but quite probably it will perform perfectly in 1080p, which is an uber-resolution to game in. And, if you're a big gamer, remember that iMacs hold their value very well (keep the box!), and you can always upgrade to next-gen iMacs which will likely have updated graphic cards. Obviously it's not the same as having a PC where you can "just" swap the graphic card.

    3) I also have the Astro A40: it was very good with the iMac built-in soundcard, now it's incredible.

    4) I boot in seconds into windows (7 64 bit), but i boot off an external SSD drive connected via thunderbolt (search the forums for detailed how-to in case you're interested). But i can't benchmark it, in the last 8 years i used to use windows only at work (before i quit), and it used to take 6 minutes to boot the corporate windows machine with all the security software in it....don't think it's a fair comparison. My Windows 7 bootcamp partition is totally clean. I hate the OS, but i use it to just double-click on the icon of a game, so it's fine.

    NET: go for it, but do it only if you are actually a heavy OSX user (music/video/graphic production, etc.), which is what a maxed out iMac is meant to be used for. If you use OSX more for things like standard browsing, iTunes, etc. probably you're better off with something like a Mac Mini and and a dedicated PC machine.


  5. Mac32 Suspended

    Nov 20, 2010
    Thanks for the tip! I remember gaming with a surround speaker system some years ago with an Audigy card (amongst others). I was going to buy the same external sound card you mention, but I read several places that Windows 7 already offeres EAX and surround sound support.
    So you're saying this made a huge difference playing games with HEADPHONES, not a surround speaker system? I always thought surround headphones were a gimmick, maybe I have to check it out...
  6. vannibombonato thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2007
    I'm quite an audio "expert", and can tell you that there's no way ANY headphone can possibly reproduce something like a true 7.1 system. It's just physics, at least with today's tech (just as an example, a good subwoofer tightly shakes your whole body, with the headphone you can only feel it in your head).
    This said, i can definitely tell you that in a blind test i could tell wearing my Astro A40 if a sound is coming from which direction, behind included. Again, it's not as clear as a true 7.1 setup, but the effect is definitely there. Whether it's worth the expense, it's a very personal judgment i think. For sure consider it only if you couple it with a Dolby Digital Live capable card.

    Pro gamers generally use directional headphones because this way you are completely isolated from the outside world, but theoretically speaking if you could crank up and trim properly in an isolated room outboard speakers will always outperform headphones. Forget the mic in that case, obviously...
  7. RoastingPig macrumors 68000


    Jul 23, 2012
    i play fps games on mute i really do and imma a beast

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